The Role of Design Thinking in Business Agility
12 July 2019
Posted by: Jorge Rodriguez, Design Thinkers Group
I have been living in Barcelona since 2004, and when I came to finish my masters degree in cultural management, I was looking for a way to understand mindsets and maybe even find a new one for myself. Since then, and for the last ten or eleven years a complete redirection in the way I work, do business and see the world has transformed everything in my life.
Design Thinking has apparently been there for many years, but not as explicit as we see it today. In my previous work developing contents and market guidelines for HBO and Sony pictures, product was the most important thing. Finding great stories, models and accurate channels to gain market, and encourage consumers to buy and see more films was the main reason to be there. But an interesting project and of course, life circumstances completely changed my view on this.
Researching about how the diversity of European languages can be used as a criteria for market segmentation for film distribution, made me think about who these people were in each culture, how they lived and consumed and which were their preference in stories and ideas, their views of the world ended changing mine. Hundreds of questions about why people do what they do and how that can become an element of business or market opportunity started giving me headaches.
That’s when Human Centered Design (HCD) and then Innovation appeared in the landscape. My mindset, by then had mostly been centered on finding accurate channels and partners between our product catalog and regional European markets according to their purchase capacity and our competitors’ prices turned into understanding who these people actually were, and what were the values and beliefs shaping their identities. This understanding completely changed the way I looked at the whole business and immediately new solutions and ideas became evident and very transformative.
Since the design culture, and the use of non-scientific methods is something relatively new in the business world, in comparison to any scientific process, creative or humanistic processes are not what we trust the most yet. We believe in science, math and exact disciplines that provide us with a sense of security and apparently lower our perception of risk or danger. Randomness, uncertainty and experimentation are some of the elements creative thinking uses to solve complex problems, like those surrounding us in our contemporary world.
The role of the Design Thinking process in business agility is detonating agility itself, it is about revelations and discovery, but more importantly about understanding and perspective. The Design Thinking process has the ability of deeply challenging our comfort zone, our securities, the way we see and understand things, and questions the way we have worked in the past and even worse it changes our mindset to improve it. In addition, it transforms our methods, emotions and relationships, and that is why it a makes a lot of people happy but also some miserable.
It sounds terrifying but as most relevant things in life it only leads to improvement when used properly. The only risk about seeing things from a different perspective is that we may not like what we see. But that is completely fine. The world is here to evolve.
Five or six years ago, the projects and trainings that we offered, introduced companies to creative thinking and how to deal with complex problems using the structure of the design process, but Design Thinking has evolved. It knows that it is more about people than about design itself.
The most recent projects we have executed at DesignThinkers Group (for both Corporates and Government) turn to frequently be a deep mindset and cultural transformation for people inside those organisations. For us, this is a signal that Design Thinking as any other innovation and agile methods are helping transform organisations in a very fast changing world. A world that need several adjustments to obtain better and more sustainable systems that regenerate and improve not only people’s lives but the planet itself.
Mindset evolutions are detailed and slow processes of un-learning and discovery about the achievements we have reached as businesses and organisations. Design Thinking helps in the initial phases of these transformations, exploring context, understanding stakeholders and users, and deeply engaging with prototyping and testing the most accurate solutions or creating new value for them.
Design Thinking has two sides when in organizations: the first one is to help it approach a different understanding of their own business and the second is to transform the way we understand and do business.
Jorge Rodriguez graduated in Fine Arts specialised Advertising - Corporate Communications, with a masters in Cultural management and currently developing his PhD research in Corporate Culture Design. He has collaborated in projects with companies like HBO-Olé Time-Warner Group, As a partner at Algo Bueno Studio S.L. he has worked on projects for SEAT, Anchor Bay and Sony Pictures Entertainment and Starz Media in California.
He is currently director for ELISAVA’s Master’s Degree in Research for Design and Innovation (MaRDI) and the Masters program in Advanced Design Management, Strategy and Entrepreneurship. He has Managing Partner at DesignThinkers Group Spain since 2009 working in Innovation projects for ACCIO the developlment agency at the Government of Catalonia, The Barcelona City Council and private companies as Telefonica, Hewlett Packard, P&G, among others.